December 17, 2020. Yuletide. It’s gonna look a little different this year.
Frank is crooning about having yourself a merry little Christmas. Yourself. Merry. Little Christmas.
Countries and more separate the kids and I. COVID barged in to make a place for itself at the table and has insistently reset both the table and the year. It’s been hard. And even me, Captain Obvious, can acknowledge that.
I’ve moved from a nest above the red brick streets to my cottage near a park and a hill. All is quiet. Calm and bright. Except for Izzy’s rumbling snoring and the soundtrack of fussing squirrels in the background.
And I can’t help thinking how often during the higgledy-piggledy frenetic dashing across town in the past, I wished for quiet. Calm and bright evenings with the kids when they were home.
To draw up the reigns of the season and slow it a bit.
Who knew that a pandemic would make those “Stille Nacht” Christmas wishes come true?
No, I am not hot-diggety-dog about missing the kids, friends or the state of the world in crisis. But I realize how we are in a place of upheaval not unlike the world at the time that kid was born. That brown, homeless, political refugee born to an unwed mother – that kid who changed the world whether you believe in him as divine or not. This whole season is devoted to him. That kid.
When the countries are locked down, disease perniciously spreading (more Americans have died since March than in all of WWII), our economies have taken grave hits and the reality of harbored resentments and anger have further scorched the earth of our Noel. We are either fending off reasonable fear or ignoring it and calling it fake news or a hoax.
And still, here we are. Resilient enough to continue to plan and prepare for a day we will share with those closest to us – or for me – with the quiet of the old Volland store-turned-AirBnb, and the Flint Hills.
We are missing the familiar. The people who will not or cannot gather. And probably even most of the fun things we swish around doing each Christmastide.
We can’t go back and undo the superspreader events that launched us toward locking down. We can’t open every favorite place to dance, skate, shop, toast or play – yet. We cannot undo what is. But what can we do? What can we do with this uninvited guest that has threatened to ruin our Christmas as it has ruined the physical, fiscal and emotional health of so many?
If you’re still reading this, I have a thought – a plan – and I need you – your help. It’s a simple solution, but hard to embrace.
We can be where we are. Grateful for our (dare I say) blessings, the people who can gather or who are on the mend. We can spread our table with take out or microwaved noodles or feast of a more familiar kind. We can sort out what our options still are and then we get to choose which options we’re going to employ to observe our version of this winterfest in this time.
We aren’t going to change the year by wishing or complaining. I’ve tried. We aren’t even going to change it by working really hard unless we are virologists and real leaders who are still in the thick of fight to restore health and community and light and life to a weary world that is finding it hard to rejoice. I learned again that working really hard to change something can make me unnecessarily stressed out and tired – much like past Christmases when I tried to be all the things to all of the people.
This year, who we are will be on full display – though likely socially distanced. Do we rail against the decision-makers who have tried their best to keep us safe or some phantoms who have stolen our precious frazzling season of joy? Or can we find ways to make merry, feel the feels and accept what we cannot change – 2020?
Can we let this year, this season, this near shutdown of life as we knew it – teach us?
Do we really want to go back to jockeying for the biggest and the brightest and the bestests of stuff and position? Racing about to be too many places at once when our souls longed for rest and our fewest favoritest people. Or the books and the snow and people we don’t yet know – but just might. The possibilities of something new and lovely are endless.
Perhaps this year of mask-wearing is when we finally examine what masks we’ve been wearing to uphold the ridiculously busy yuletides of yore.
What do we really want?
To be honest, I want my kids and bestest pals around a table talking smack over a game – K-Stateopoly to be exact. I want to ski and skate and hold a hand. To yodel on the mountains and snowshoe/finally learn to cross country ski. To be grateful for who and what I have in my life and to be open to who or what may come. Or not come.
Instead, I will love these people from a distance. Have a dance party for one in the main floor of the old Volland Store and make merry as I can.
You’re invited to make merry, too, as you can. And I’d love to hear how you are planning to or making merry. What are you looking forward to? Missing the most? Please answer in the comments. I will listen.